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Ocean Bridge in the Prairie

Ocean Bridge is a Canada wide team composed of youths between ages 18 and 30 that are selected each year and that represent the social, economic and geographic diversity of Canada with the main goal to ensure that oceans and waterways stay healthy and to deliver education outreach activities in the communities on the importance of protecting our waters.

Ocean Bridge clean-up workshop

If you have already started to wonder, you do not need to live near the Ocean to participate. Actually, Winnipeg has its own cohort in the program. Ocean Bridge Winnipeg Cohort 2019 is a youth led group of individuals, with 19 members at large, looking to make a difference and promote water conservation from coast to coast, and it sure includes the prairies. Kimbaya Carriere is a Metis woman from Winnipeg that has always dreamed about becoming a marine biologist/conservationist and that is now an Ocean Bridge ambassador working to change this mindset, “I applied for the program because I wanted to demonstrate that even communities that are landlocked can have a relationship to the Ocean”.

Kimbaya decided to create a local cohort in Winnipeg in order to help organize a variety of projects all over the city and engage community members in ocean and waterways conservation. Throughout the year, their local team, led by Kimbaya Carriere, has held different events including shoreline cleanups, DIY workshops and guided tours to help bring awareness to the community.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup was held in partnership with Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada and was able to count with the help of over 30 volunteers from the community and surrounding areas. “To protect wildlife from the impacts of shoreline litter we held a shoreline cleanup at Parc Joseph Royal in St. Boniface. We asked a few local businesses to donate sustainable items so that we could give thanks to the community for helping with cleanup” says Kimbaya. The dedicated team was able to remove over a dozen large bags consisting of compost, recycling and trash from the shoreline that were then correctly disposed by the city of Winnipeg. This cleanup was the first of others to come. Lush Cosmetics on Polo Park, one of the major donors for the first shoreline cleanup at Parc Joseph Royal in St. Boniface, reached out to the cohort this fall to team up with Ocean Bridge and coordinate a park-wide clean up at Bourkevale Park.

DIY Beeswax Wrap Workshops were also held during the summer months. Those were free events hosted at the Kinship Studio where community members made beeswax food wraps - reusable and sustainable alternative to plastic wrap and single-use plastic - out of scrap material donated from Voila Designs, now known as Anne Mulaire designs.

In August, Ocean Bridge members Kim and Katlyn, led the community on Arctic Alley Marine guided tours, a tour of a seemingly ordinary back-alley that has been converted into Manitoban wildlife street art by local artist, Kal Barteski, to learn more about Manitoban marine/arctic wildlife and the impacts climate change is having on their ecosystems. Those were events in honour of Danielle Moore – an aspiring marine biologist living in Winnipeg, who sadly passed away on the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 – and all the proceeds were donated to the Danielle Moore Memorial Fund.

Lots has already been done by this years’ Winnipeg cohort and more is to come. Although participants commitment to Ocean bridge is for one year only, the events and projects achieved throughout the year have a long lasting impact on the communities, having helped community members not only become more aware of the issues that impact our Oceans and waterways, but also to create a more sustainable relationship with them.

The impacts on the youth participants will also be carried out through life. The Ocean Bridge program is about giving youth experience and fostering the curiosity and passion about our oceans in each one and it is certainly achieving its goals. Kimbaya Carriere plans to continue to make change in the communities after finishing this year with Ocean Bridge “I hope to continue managing the account once I finish my year with Ocean bridge as I have a project I have been working on throughout the year that I would like to integrate into the page”.

Make sure to check out their Instagram page at @missinak to learn more!

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